Neither the licensee nor the community was represented by counsel.
Ms. Elizabeth Dolan volunteered to be the community representative for the purpose of the hearing. She introduced the case to the Board, arguing that Lears II has had a proven connection with drugs and with alcohol sales to intoxicated individuals. There are consistently double-parked vehicles, sometimes on both sides of the street, whose drivers go inside for hours at a time to drink alcohol at Lears II. The business produces noise and trash; the services at the bar are not unique, and there is an overall negative impact on the general welfare of the community.
Ms. Kristin Ernst, administrator of group email account, submitted into evidence nine letters from individuals who could not be present at the hearing.
Mr. Lear responded to the allegations by sayings, “I don’t know any of these people. I’ve done everything I have for that community.”
Ms. Ernst testified that people loitering outside of Lears II harass people who walk by, use vulgar language and are overly drunk. She said that the customers do not live in the neighborhood and that people can’t walk on that side of the street because of the rude patrons. Intoxicated people have followed her to her home as she was walking her dog, and a patron was smoking in the bar once and the bartender did nothing about it. Ms. Dolan went into more detail about the double-parked vehicles, littering and trash outside the establishment. She distinguished Lears II from other bars within a block: other bars are more responsive to neighborhood complaints and are more involved in their communities.
Ms. Jennifer Polito testified about drug transactions and sales of alcohol during prohibited hours (i.e., after 2AM). She testified that she saw a suspicious individual who was coming in and out of Lears II over a time period of several hours, getting into vehicles, driving around the block and then getting back out of the vehicles and going inside Lears II.
Ms. Robin Shay testified that she witnessed a drug deal inside the courtyard of her home; she followed the perpetrators, and the woman who had bought the drugs went directly inside Lears II.
Mr. Jamison Ernst testified that he had seen someone with a crossbow standing right in front of the door of Lears II, pointing it around. He has seen more than ten people leave the bar and publicly urinate outside. And people leave Lears II well after closing time every Friday and Saturday and are loud and obnoxious. Mr. Lear asked Mr. Ernst whether the crossbow was loaded? Mr. Ernst wasn’t sure. Mr. Lear said, “A bow with no arrow, doesn’t seem dangerous to me. All of a sudden, you people!”
Mr. Dan Tracy, Vice President of the Canton Community Association, testified about how he had brought the residents’ concerns to Mr. Lear and discussed them at length and in writing. He said that Mr. Lear had fixed a few things but not everything.
Baltimore Police Detective Leo Siegmund testified on behalf of Mr. Lear that the police had received a complaint from Mr. Lear about the drug dealing problem that Ms. Polito had witnessed. The police investigated the situation and arrested the perpetrator, a Mr. Hill.
Liquor Board Inspector Ed Owens testified that he has been to the establishment four or five times and has never noticed any illegal activity in or outside the bar. He has never been there when there was a crowd. Mr. Lear has been a licensee for twenty years and has had few issues, in the opinion of Mr. Owens. There have been three complaints within the past year, which, according to the inspectors, were all unsubstantiated.
In conclusion, Ms. Dolan told the Board that the Canton neighbors are “open to bars if they’re willing … to do the bare minimum.”
In his final rebuttal and conclusion, Mr. Lear said that he “think[s] the [protestants] want the bar gone because it’s high priced houses they paid for. They’re just upset because I’m there. The bar has been there since 1934.”
Mr. Lear’s wife, in the audience, during the breaks in the Board’s hearing, stated (loudly, for all of the audience to hear), about the protestants: “bunch of snobs. They all have money.” Mr. Lear turned to her during another break and asked if she recognized any of the protestants, and she said, “I don’t know ‘em and I don’t want to know ‘em. They think they’re better than us.”